Adam Sandler is proving to be a bit of a chameleon, a statement which may surprise many people. The man aptly moves through frat boy macho dumb fare such as “Waterboy” and “Happy Gilmore”, mainstream studio comedy like “Big Daddy” and “Anger Management”, art house cinema with “Punch-Drunk Love” and the romantic date movies like “The Wedding Singer” and now this, with ease.
‘Dates’ reteams him with Barrymore, the two who proved a surprisingly effective combination in 98’s “Wedding Singer” which is a personal fave of mine – her sheer upbeat and sweet nature mixed with his fiery manic smug attitude diffuse the bad aspects of each other’s personalities to create an enchanting couple.
The romance is what this film gets right – not just the chemistry but the premise lends itself overall to a kind of sweet idea about rediscovering love everyday. Sure the setup is unbelievable but when the the couple is this disarming it’s easy to go with it. Drew’s condition is never made fun of or treated in a negative way, more as something inevitable which must be overcome. With its central concept of course it does become repetitive far more often than it should, which does make the movie drag out and feel far longer than it has to.
Undercutting the film though is the return to standard Sandler comic antics and lack of genuine comedy. From Rob Schneider’s insultingly bad role as a burned out Island stoner, to Astin’s decent but one-joke lisping bodybuilding brother character, the humour in this keeps trying and falling flat on its face – a real shame compared with something like ‘Wedding’ which got both the laughs and the romance just right. Assorted cast are strong but one wishes the material had been given more of a workout and steered in a cleverer direction. One for couples but expect your heart to get a better workout than your funny bone.